Founded in 1472, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena S.p.A. (MPS), is the oldest bank in the world. Headquartered in Siena, Italy, MPS boasts more than 25,000 full-time employees, providing retail and commercial banking services worldwide.
Widiba is an online banking arm of MPS created in 2014, with the aim of providing customers with simple, convenient, and innovative fund management services. It prides itself on delivering high value through the use of an IT platform that can be customized by users to suit their own particular needs and a network of 600 advisors, offering a wide range of telephone-based financial advice services.
Demands: Business Agility and Resilience
The transformation of traditional financial services is being driven by fast-changing and pervasive Internet information technologies. The application of cloud computing, big data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and mobile interconnections promotes the development of e-Commerce and mobile financing services that tend to be socialized and data-based, which requires financial enterprises to upgrade their IT infrastructure.
Aiming to build a one-stop financial service platform to serve high-value customers, Widiba is actively deploying wealth management services. It covers more customers by providing intelligent investment advisory services through an Internet-based financial platform, meeting a diverse range of financial service requirements.
“When Widiba was first set up, it was reliant on using Montepaschi’s data center infrastructure to host its core services. Although this worked well in its initial start-up phase, it soon became a problem as its customer base started to grow,” explains Massimiliano Belli, Head of IT Monitoring at Widiba. “The fast growth we were experiencing meant we needed to improve the speed at which we could handle the increasing flows of data. We also wanted to launch new products to keep up with what our customers were asking for, but we just didn’t have the agility and resilience we needed. We soon realized that the only way forward was to build a new data center network.”
Massimiliano Belli continues, “Most banks choose solutions based on what the big vendors give them. They are often told what they want but this is not the way we work. Our requirements are driven solely by our customers. With this in mind, we wanted a system that uses open-source software that we can adapt as we need.”
In recent years, Widiba has intensified its technological innovation. It uses an interactive model similar to Google search and leverages big data engines to recommend banking services for users based on their behavior algorithms and feedback information. After several rounds of communication and repeated demonstration, Widiba chose Huawei as a partner to build a future-proof IT data management platform.
The platform is powered by Huawei’s OceanStor 5500 converged storage systems in new data centers. The OceanStor 5500 supports converged active-active (HyperMetro) for SAN and NAS. The high-performance SSD-based all-flash SAN storage bears online transaction records and other critical business systems, and check images are kept on the large-capacity NAS storage.
During the IT enablement process, Widiba made penetrating insights into the trends of big data and the monitoring of user experience. It believes that SSDs will be the most appropriate data storage media to meet the requirement of massive storage capacity and the high performance necessary to ensure satisfactory user experience. Therefore, Widiba has built a high-performance storage resource pool composed of SSD-based OceanStor 5500 systems to meet the performance and efficiency demands of core business systems. The pool helped increase the core service processing efficiency, and shorted the average transaction and query response time. The storage system latency was reduced from 3 to 5 ms to less than 1 ms.
One unified converged storage system meets the varying demands of different workloads (online transactions, ERP financial services, customer management system, and check image management system) and outperforms the legacy hosting system three-fold. The SAN-NAS convergence has delivered elastic storage, simplified service deployment, and improved storage resource utilization, reducing the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) by 30 percent.
The Constant Pursuit of Service Stability
Data is a valuable asset for enterprises. It is a strategic asset that promotes high-quality development. Widiba realizes that the key to maximizing data value is to ensure that the data is accurate, up-to-date, consistent, and secure. However, in the mobile Internet era, which has brought a sweeping wave of big data and ever-escalating threats to data security, the reliability of data storage is confronted with unprecedented challenges. As a money-management company, Widiba cannot allow any disruption to IT systems which might result in heavy financial losses. Ensuring the stability and security of service system operations is of paramount importance.
To address the challenges of the mobile Internet era, Widiba cooperated with Huawei to design a converged active-active (HyperMetro) SAN and NAS solution. Huawei deployed one set of OceanStor 5500 systems in Widiba’s Siena Production Center and another one in its Florence Data Center, in an active-active configuration. Storage resource pools at the two sites provide backup for each other, achieving 99.9999 percent data availability. The two linked sites are 100 km away from each other. One storage system of the SSD-powered active-active SAN provides 100,000 IOPS at 1 ms latency, and one storage system at the other site offers 78,000 IOPS at 2.4 ms. This design meets the storage performance requirements of IBM MQ, VMware virtualization, and PostgreSQL databases on the live network.
“Huawei even helped us in developing our end-to-end business continuity services in both the qualification and delivery phases, to make sure we could meet the very challenging service performance requirements we had set.” adds Massimiliano Belli.
Huawei’s OceanStor 5500 system adopts a scale-out architecture with a multi-layer reliability design (RAID 2.0+, full redundancy of components, and converged active-active). A storage array supports up to eight controllers and provides million-IOPS level and 1 ms latency. It offers PBs of storage capacity with the system performance and capacity linearly growing as the number of controllers increases, allowing Widiba to configure controllers on demand without worrying about performance bottlenecks during future capacity expansion.
“Widiba’s new IT infrastructure has made a huge difference to its operation and has allowed it to accelerate significantly the introduction of new services. Moving from an infrastructure that was complex and fragile, it now has one that is more adaptable and less costly to maintain than its predecessor. With the Huawei’s powerful infrastructure, these targets are very easy to achieve. From start to finish we have been very impressed by Huawei’s approach. The company is very responsive and the support provided by its engineering team has made a big difference,” concludes Massimiliano Belli.
“Widiba’s new IT infrastructure has made a huge difference to its operation and has allowed it to accelerate significantly the introduction of new services. Moving from an infrastructure that was complex and fragile, it now has one that is more adaptable and less costly to maintain than its predecessor. With the Huawei’s powerful infrastructure, these targets are very easy to achieve. From start to finish we have been very impressed by Huawei’s approach. The company is very responsive and the support provided by its engineering team has made a big difference.”
— Massimiliano Belli, Head of IT Monitoring at Widiba